Poitou donkeys head to Norfolk!
By Imogen Johnson
10 April 2012 11:44
Head to this summer’s Royal Norfolk Show and you’ll be in for a treat as a rare breed of donkey will be on show.
Poitou donkeys, recognisable by their large bodies and shaggy coats, will be at this year’s Royal Norfolk Show, which takes place on 27-28 June.
The unusual animals, which originate from the Poitou region of France, are an endangered species with only about 3000 left in the world. Thankfully this figure is up from just 44 donkeys recorded in 1977 thanks to the efforts of a 1970s rescue programme launched in France to protect the species.
The breed is now also on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List.
Kurt Manders, who is one of only a handful of UK owners of the endangered breed, will be bringing four donkeys to this year’s show from his sanctuary in Colchester, including a two-week-old foal.
Mr Manders competed with his donkeys at the show last year and although there are no donkey classes this year, the animals proved so popular that he has been invited back as a visitor attraction.
“I first started with the traditional standard grey donkeys and learned very quickly they were not the stubborn animal that would bite and kick as people thought - they are very intelligent, gentle and cautious animals,” he said.
“I later stumbled across the amazing giant Poitou donkeys, which have beautiful brown, long, shaggy coats and can grow up to 15hh.
”Their temperament is like no other, they are very calm and docile. They absolutely love human attention and will push you until you stroke them or - as I do - kiss and hug them! I have great pleasure in helping to keep this rare breed alive.”
Mr Manders will be giving brief talks at the show about the donkeys, their welfare and their story.
Mary Wright, Livestock Co-ordinator at the Royal Norfolk Show, is delighted to have Mr Manders and his donkeys back this year.
“They are so beautiful and unique and were very popular last year – we had to invite him back again this year. The Poitou donkeys are bound to be popular with visitors of all ages, she said.”
Advance tickets are now available online at www.royalnorfolkshow.co.uk.